Dec 2, 2014

Richmond Standard reader Koa Phan sent us the above photo of a derailed train off Richmond Parkway, an incident that hasn’t been publicly reported.

The reader said the derailment occurred where Pennsylvania Avenue ends near Peres Elementary School.

After calling various agencies, we learned from a BNSF Railway official on Tuesday that the train had derailed on Friday. The official declined to comment further, saying we needed to talk to his general manager who wasn’t immediately available. We’ll try him again.

Richmond police learned about the derailment on Sunday, after BNSF called to report that people had apparently entered the train car without authorization, spokesperson Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.

RPD did not respond to that call for service, however, as the railway property is not in its jurisdiction, Abetkov said.

“[BNSF] handled it on their own,” she said.

Richmond Fire Chief Michael Banks said his department did not receive any calls about the derailment, adding dispatch was not aware of any calls.

Phan said it was lucky the derailed train wasn’t flammable.

“It could have been a bad situation,” he said.

Richmond residents and city officials have been on heightened awareness about train derailments after a media investigation in February exposed transports of highly flammable Bakken crude oil to the Kinder Morgan facility in Point Richmond. The public at the time was unaware of the shipments.

Such transports have been linked to explosions and derailments, including one in a small town in Quebec that killed 47 people and destroyed the downtown.

Last month, Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay called on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to revoke permits allowing the transports.

Check back for updates.


  1. I live in Richmond. Thank you and your team so very much for reporting events like these. Kept up the fantastic work!

    Johanna | Dec 2nd, 2014
  2. This incident makes it abundantly clear that we cannot tolerate crude by rail moving through our communities.

    Janet Scoll Johnson | Dec 3rd, 2014
  3. Crude by Rail is hauled in tank cars. That is a box car. There is no crude oil inside.

    DBU | Dec 4th, 2014
  4. We are lucky that it was full of pork. Could have easily been explosive. It derailed a stones throw from a elementry school. The fact is they acted like it wasnt a big thing.

    koa | Dec 6th, 2014

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.